The whooper is a large bird, bigger than the Bewick’s swans from Siberia that you are more likely to see at WWT Slimbridge. They otherwise look similar, both have yellow beaks that are not seen on indigenous mute swans in the UK.
The whooper is a noisy honking bird and quite aggressive, so it can be amusing watching them waiting around for the feeding time provided by WWT. This is well worth attending. Apart from seeing thousands of birds at close quarters, there is an excellent and informative commentary from local volunteers.
Apparently the swans spend their days in the surrounding farmers’ fields foraging for potatoes, carrots and other crops left in the ground.
And what a sight to see a group coming in to land, especially with the sun beginning to set.
Here you can see their landing trails on the water. ‘Burst mode’ is an invaluable feature on the camera when taking this sort of shot – although you then have to spend the time to sort out the best images.
The featured image shows a single swan coming in with the background of the setting sun over ice.
I am ever more impressed by the conservation work done by organisations such as WWT to keep these great natural phenoma alive, despite our aggressive colonisation of the planet.